Was ailing surf scoter at Francis Beach a victim of the oil spill?
Alan D. Wilson. CC Licensed.
As I was Plover watching on Francis Beach this afternoon, I saw a distressed Surf Scoter (a large sea duck) up on the sand, trying desperately to clean off its feathers. Like other injured birds, it did not fly off at my approach.
Suspecting that the Scoter was a victim of the cargo ship oil spill in the Bay, I contacted State Park personnel. Having no net, we failed at two rescue attempts. The bird was still able to fly. On the second try, the ranger got within one foot of the Scoter, before it flew off. We did not want to stress it any further.
It’s sad to think that this bird might not survive because of all the toxic oil it’s ingesting from its feathers.
It’s unclear whether the bird had been oiled elsewhere and managed to fly here, or whether we have an off shore oil slick here on our Coastside. Maybe others can monitor our beach conditions in the next few days.